Doc Hendley was working as a bartender in Raleigh, N.C., in 2003 when he first heard about the water crisis and wanted to find a way to help. He realized he had two skills that he could use to help raise money for developing countries — the ability to bring people together and his knowledge of good wine. The combination worked, and he held several successful local fundraisers. From this simple start began an incredible journey that not only changed Doc’s life forever, but has improved the lives of thousands of people around the world.
Inspired by his initial success, Doc soon moved to Darfur, Sudan to install wells for victims of the terrible genocide sweeping the region. His experience in Sudan completely changed his life. When he talks about his time in Sudan, he has to hold back the tears when explaining how water went from the passion of his life to the “burden of his life.” He’s now devoted his life to fighting the water crisis.
To raise more money for clean drinking water projects, he created a nonprofit organization, Wine to Water — which currently works in nine countries building wells, providing filters, and training people how to build and maintain wells. Working with limited budgets, Wine to Water has learned to be creative to bring down the price of building a well. Two years ago, when Wine to Water built its first well in Cambodia, each well cost around $2,500 in parts and labor. They now buy all the materials locally and work with people in the villages enabling them to build wells for less than $500. They’ve built over 150 wells in Cambodia and each of those wells provides water for up to 200 people.
Doc makes a passionate case for why clean water is so important to the more than 1 billion people on the planet have no access to clean drinking water. “Contaminated water kills more children than HIV / AIDs, malaria and tuberculosis combined … Every 15 seconds a child dies because of the water crisis.”
Spending more time in developing countries than at home in North Carolina, Doc is not only building wells and distributing filters but also continuing to look for ways in which he can teach the local people how to help themselves. After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, he spent several months organizing the distribution of filters to areas without access to clean water. He’s now working with other humanitarian groups to actually manufacture those filters in Haiti where they are needed most.
Twitter allows Doc to immediately share the news about what Wine to Water is working on in countries around the world. He can be in any country, and as long as his cell phone has access, he can snap a picture and immediately send it to all of his followers. He often shares photos of the work they are doing — whether it’s from the factory making water filters in Haiti or a new running water system in Peru. Wine to Water also recently launched a new website and blog, which will allow them to share more stories and video of the work they are doing.
Wine to Water has already provided clean drinking water for over 25,000 people in nine countries — Sudan, Uganda, India, Cambodia, Peru, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Haiti — and wants to do more. According to Wine to Water, “a $25 water filter will completely revolutionize a person’s life.”
In a recent interview, Doc said, “If you find something you’re passionate about — I don’t care who you are or what you do, you will make a difference.”
Photo source: winetowater.org